Journal During the Trump Regime (4)

Journal During the Trump Regime (1)
Journal During the Trump Regime (2)
Journal During the Trump Regime (3)

Good line:

70 thoughts on “Journal During the Trump Regime (4)

    1. Yes. I have a hypothesis on the seemingly disconnect between he and his wife. He’s being really public about his disagreements in the hopes that if and when the Trump presidency ends in utter disaster, his actions can somehow rub off on his wife, mitigating her role in the Trump administration. Pure speculation on my part, and I don’t put a lot of stock into it.

    2. Spouses don’t always agree on everything political. In fact I’d say seldom. Mary Matalin and James Carville are still married.

      1. Yeah that’s a possibility, although I don’t think most spouses would publicly air their differences. Also, Matalin and Carville were/are political operatives in the media, fighting for opposite sides. Obviously, Kellyanne would fall into that category, but I don’t know about George.

      2. He’s been vocally anti DT from the beginning. I read an interesting profile of her and her family some time ago. It was mostly a profile of her, so he chose not to discuss their differences for that piece. But it was well known even then.

        1. Right, but what about before that? He wasn’t a pundit who aired his political views, or am I wrong about that? He appeared on my radar screen when Kellyanne started working for Trump (or a little after that).

  1. Like many of Trump comments, there are several troubling layers, and the fact that there are multiple layers sort of stuns me. In this case, there’s the layer regarding how he speaks to and about non-whites. There’s the layer about his regard and treatment of women. Then there’s also his insulting, inappropriate behavior. The question doesn’t even come close to warranting that response. It seems clear it hit a nerve, and politicians do get testy when that happens, but this is unnecessary, and he should apologize. The whole thing is awful.

    edit

    Here’s Trump’s comments about April Ryan, an African-American reporter:

    edit

    I agree with Baldwin:

  2. I recommend reading this

    1. Also, this:

      I wrote last week that the midterms would finally tell us what this country now is. And with a remarkable turnout — a 50-year high for a non-presidential election, no less — we did indeed learn something solid and eye-opening. We learned that the American public as a whole has reacted to the first two years of an unfit, delusional, mendacious, malevolent, incompetent authoritarian as president … with relative equanimity. The net backlash is milder than it was against Clinton or Obama (and both of them went on to win reelection).

      What I take from this is that Trump really does have a cultlike grip on a whole new population of voters, as well as the reliable Republican voters of the past. That’s not just 42 percent of the country (to use Trump’s approval rating); it’s a motivated 42 percent. And what Trump has successfully done, by corralling right-wing media, tweeting incessantly, dominating the discourse, tending so diligently to his base, and holding rally after rally, is keep that engagement going. Most presidents are interested in governing and sometimes take their eye off the ball politically. Trump is all politics and all salesmanship all the time. And it works. If he can demonstrate this in the midterms, imagine what his reelection campaign will be like.

      For a presidency like Trump’s to generate less opposition after two years than Clinton’s or Obama’s is a rather chilling sign of how far down the rabbit hole we have already gone. To greet what is an emergency for liberal democracy as a business-as-usual political cycle, is de facto a big win for the whole idea of strongman rule. And on the key issues of a free press and the rule of law, the strongman is winning.

      edit

      Tangential, but related note:

      1. The following twitter thread connects with the the last op-ed above, by Anne Applebaum.

        I’m not sure how you guys feel, but to me undermining the validity of the election without really strong evidence is among the worst, most objectionable things Trump does–and other prominent members of the GOP doing the same is equally worse. The behavior is authoritarian. They’re willing to undermine the faith in the electoral process for the sake of power. Responsible leaders of a liberal democracy do not behave this way. Off the top of my head, I can see no justification for this. Republicans can feel frustrated or concerned, but Democrats have been and will be in similar situations, but that doesn’t justify subverting the process or making baseless accusations about electoral fraud.

  3. How you figure.

  4. Comments that are not only odd, but also don’t inspire confidence. How many really intelligent people actually speak this way?

    “I’m doing deals, and I’m not being accommodated by the Fed,” Trump said. “They’re making a mistake because I have a gut, and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else’s brain can ever tell me.”

    Trump also dismissed the federal government’s landmark report released last week finding that damages from global warming are intensifying around the country. The president said that “I don’t see” climate change as man-made and that he does not believe the scientific consensus.

    “One of the problems that a lot of people like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence but we’re not necessarily such believers,” Trump said. “You look at our air and our water, and it’s right now at a record clean.”

    The president added of climate change, “As to whether or not it’s man-made and whether or not the effects that you’re talking about are there, I don’t see it.”

  5. I agree with Wittes. Also, no reasonable and responsible Congressional Democrat or Republican would say that a POTUS dangling a pardon to protect himself is acceptable.

    1. Related:

      Even if this isn’t a crime*, this is a big deal. Let’s suppose that Trump is actually acting in the country’s interest, with regard to Russian and Saudi foreign policy, the mere appearance of a conflict of interest is a huge problem. That Trump has no qualms with this is another bit of evidence that he’s unfit to lead, he doesn’t really care enough about being a responsible leader.

      *The fact that Trump has not divested his business, and that foreign leaders (and others) could be giving money to Trump by visiting his hotels/golf courses seems like a significant violation of the Emoluments Clause, which prohibits the POTUS from taking gifts from foreign leaders. The purpose of the clause is to prevent the foreign powers from bribing and controlling the POTUS. Again, Trump seems to have zero qualms with this or using his office to make as much money as possible for himself.

  6. Signs of a Healthy and Unhealthy Republic

    First, a thread on some unhealthy indicators:

    Bush 41 died yesterday. His note to incoming President Clinton is an act of a healthy Republic:

    The actual handwritten note below:

  7. What I like about this Rangappa article, which I recommend, is that she rightly moves away from legality of Trump’s actions and focuses on whether Trump is violating the Constitution–and, again, not necessarily from a legal point of view. It is pretty obvious to me that Trump is violating these violating the Constitution with regard to these two fears.

    On a similar note,

  8. This feels right to me. Specifically, Mueller is using this sentencing memo to counter Trump’s message to not cooperate.

  9. The following tweet is NOT from Trump. However, the fact that genuinely didn’t know this, and actually leaned toward assuming it was real, is crazy.

    After reading this, I did exclaim, “No way! This can’t be real.” The thing is, I’ve said this many times when the statements were real.

  10. Where Corruption Intersects with National Security and the Country’s Interests

    I didn’t read the article, but I’m confident that foreign countries are going to Donald Trump’s properties, and Trump profits from this. I don’t know if this is influencing Trump’s decisions with regard to formulating U.S. policies towards these countries (or even individuals, foreign or domestic), but it doesn’t matter. The appearance and possibility that Trump could be putting his business interests ahead of the country’s is incredibly damning by itself. This is so wrong; we should be outraged and deeply concerned about this.

    1. During the Trump era, knowing which people and which explanations are reasonable, versus kooky and conspiratorial, can be quite difficult. After reading some of Abramson’s tweets, I’ve shied away from him, essentially putting him in the kooky bucket. So, no, I haven’t read this article. I will check it out since you’ve mentioned it.

    2. So you’re saying you applied your own sensibilities to determine a person’s credibility, rather than relying on the sensibilities of an established entity like Salon to serve as your filter? 🙂 I wish I’d thought of that!

      1. I spent time investigating whether he was credible and reliable, and decided that he wasn’t. The degree to which I can do this, for various sources of information on various topics, is extremely limited. Hence, I often have to trust established individuals and institutions to a large degree. Is this not true for yourself?

        1. Since I feel uncertain and even confused more than I’d like, I think I’d have to say no, the situation is not adequate. Additionally, I’m not confident that I’m getting the most important information or getting a proper understanding of important issues.

          My sense is that the primary reason for this is the institutions and tools for gathering, filtering, and helping us make sense of information is inadequate.

          Is the extent and frequency in which you feel confused or uncertain about a topic or news item fairly rare for you? A recent example where I’m more uncertain than I’d like is what seems like undemocratic actions by Republicans in North Carolina, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Many of the sources I look to are outraged, but they tend to be left-leaning. I don’t seem to be getting a lot out of my right-leaning sources (so maybe I should assume the left-leaning sources are accurate?).

        2. I think that’s tough to say because you have a left-leaning bias. The facts are the facts, though: do your left and right sources differ on the facts as well as on their analysis of the facts?

          You can never be completely clear on any issue you don’t have some expertise in, I don’t think, and uncertainty is just part of life. I understand (and sympathize with) your feeling that the available tools are inadequate, but what causes the inadequacy beyond the usual amount of uncertainty life just insists on throwing at us? What I’m asking is, do you think it’s even possible to have the kind of certainty you yearn for?

          1. I think that’s tough to say because you have a left-leaning bias.

            I’m not sure what you’re referring to here. Is this in reference to the questions, I asked you?

            The facts are the facts, though: do your left and right sources differ on the facts as well as on their analysis of the facts?

            I don’t think it’s rarely that simple. And yet part of this is that both sides can dispute what the facts are, and if they agree, they can either emphasize or de-emphasize it’s significance. I think the simple presentation of facts is almost never sufficient to allow me to draw my own conclusions, especially if key contextual information is left out. Clinton used her private email to do government business. How bad is that?

            I understand (and sympathize with) your feeling that the available tools are inadequate, but what causes the inadequacy beyond the usual amount of uncertainty life just insists on throwing at us? What I’m asking is, do you think it’s even possible to have the kind of certainty you yearn for?

            I think these are good questions. Let start with the last one. I suspect I won’t get to the type of certainty that I want. However, I tend to think that significant improvements can and should be made.

            To answer the second question, I would say two things off the top of my head:

            1. I feel like I’m relying way too much on heuristics, heuristics that are not always reliable. For example, relying on headlines, or gauging the importance of a story based on the frequency of its appearance in the media;

            2. I feel overwhelmed by information, and I don’t know who to believe. I do think that conservatives constant criticism of liberal bias has affected me, whether I believe this is a valid criticism or just some subliminal influence.

            I feel like navigating and moving through the information landscape shouldn’t feel so overwhelming and confusing. My sense is that better tools, processes, or institutions could help mitigate this.

          2. Reid said:

            I’m not sure what you’re referring to here. Is this in reference to the questions, I asked you?

            It was in response to “Many of the sources I look to are outraged, but they tend to be left-leaning. I don’t seem to be getting a lot out of my right-leaning sources (so maybe I should assume the left-leaning sources are accurate?).”

            I think you’re saying that it is rarely that simple, and of course you’re right. But facts are a place to start. Don’t most of your sources agree on the who-what-when-where-how facts? Different sides may dispute the facts, but when the Wall Street Journal (for example), New York Times, and CNN agree on those facts, you have a place from which to begin your own assessment.

            On the Clinton emails, I may have the details hazy (because to be honest I was very quick to decide how important I thought it was and then mostly checked out of the conversation), but wasn’t the source the FBI? I wouldn’t put it past the FBI to lie about the facts (or withhold some of them), but I don’t have a reason to believe it would.

            Building from that, don’t we all just listen to people whose experience and analysis we trust? I sorta didn’t feel I needed to here because as soon as I heard “private server” I immediately knew why a person would do this (because I have experience in this area), reasons that have been demonstrated again by today’s occupants of the White House.

            I think you think the reason people interpret the Clinton emails thing on almost opposite extremes is that you’ve looked at the facts and contexts and analyses and it’s pretty clear to you that it’s bad but not that bad, so everyone would agree with you and if they don’t, someone must be missing something.

            But it’s not really a difference of opinion on facts. It’s a difference in values. Some people think that if you do a thing like that and it’s illegal, it’s just wrong. Bill Clinton lied to Congress: it doesn’t matter what it was about; it was a lie. Some people enter the country illegally: it doesn’t matter what the circumstances were or what they’ve done for this country in the time since; they’re still here illegally.

            I may be rambling off-topic here, but my point is that in the case of the emails, we pretty much know the facts, and I’m not sure any further analysis by ANYONE is ever going to make you (or anyone else) more sure of “good” or “bad.”

            In case my statement of sympathy seemed flippant or casual, I’m going to say it again: I do sympathize with your feelings about this stuff. I think maybe I’ve embraced uncertainty for a few reasons, and this embracing has made things less overwhelming for me (which of course could be bad; that tsunami is on its way whether I head for higher ground or not!). First, when I think about the times in my life I’ve been certain about stuff, I’m completely embarrassed (humiliated, even) about how wrong I was, and (worse) what I said and did to people because of my certainty. That was never worth it, even if I had been right (is it the protest at weddings question raising its head again?).

            And second (which I know is probably not good), I just think things are going to work out. I know the second thing is a major character flaw, but I can’t help it. My approach, which I hope someday may excuse this attitude on a grander, more cosmic scale, is to do what I can in my small piece of the cosmos to nudge it along toward working out for the better. No, of course that doesn’t give me peace and it’s one reason I don’t sleep well. I think it’s just that a lifetime of thinking about the question, reading too many books, listening to too many songs, and watching too many movies has led me to this as a response.

            I feel like navigating and moving through the information landscape shouldn’t feel so overwhelming and confusing. My sense is that better tools, processes, or institutions could help mitigate this.

            I genuinely hope something comes along that helps with this. My biggest disagreement with you in this recurring conversation has been your inclination to say “WE need…” but you’ve stayed away from that in this recent conversation, and it’s a much more compelling discussion. I know you still think WE need it, and that people like me are deluding ourselves (or just wrong!), but maybe framing it as being comfortable with uncertainty will make my resistance less maddening.

            I would much, much, much rather live in this world with too much information than the world we grew up in, with 30 minutes of national news per evening and whatever the two local papers decided to put in their print edition.

            There are ways I’m still living in that past, though (tangent warning). I’ve been very slow to give much credibility to entities like Vox, Mic (RIP), Politico, and The Hill, but I’m coming around. I still won’t click most links to stories in HuffPo, and I refuse to read almost anything in the NY Post. New times call for new ways of thinking about the gatekeepers, and getting there hasn’t been easy for me.

  11. Mitchell,

    I read the Abramson interview. What stood out for you, and what specific point did you find convincing at the end? By the way, I think I agreed with most of what he said, although I felt like he was basically summarizing what has been covered by other journalists. I say this in a matter-of-fact way; that is, I don’t think this is neither good or bad.

  12. It was in response to “Many of the sources I look to are outraged, but they tend to be left-leaning. I don’t seem to be getting a lot out of my right-leaning sources (so maybe I should assume the left-leaning sources are accurate?).”

    How does my left-leaning bias factor in, if my right leaning sources are largely silent, and not offering any rebuttals to claims by my left-leaning sources. If my right-leaning sources rebutted the left’s claims, and I sided with the left, then what you said would make more sense.

    Re: Facts

    Basic facts are a starting point, but without additional facts and information, I have difficulty knowing the significance of those facts and then drawing conclusions. And I think often many of this type of information and facts are left out. Sources make decisions about which facts to emphasize or de-emphasize as well. Maybe one of the big differences between us is that I feel I need more information to draw conclusions than you do, and without this, I feel uncertain and even confused?

    I think you think the reason people interpret the Clinton emails thing on almost opposite extremes is that you’ve looked at the facts and contexts and analyses and it’s pretty clear to you that it’s bad but not that bad, so everyone would agree with you and if they don’t, someone must be missing something.

    But it’s not really a difference of opinion on facts. It’s a difference in values. Some people think that if you do a thing like that and it’s illegal, it’s just wrong.

    First, I think the first paragraph is accurate. I do tend to think if more people had more information their opinion would change. Second, I think your point about values is valid and important. I do think difference in values can explain why people arrive at different conclusions.

    But do you think it’s fair to assume that the amount of information and analysis regarding Clinton’s emails hasn’t been extensive for most people? If so, I would think this could change their perception and even position on the matter.

    By the way, you mentioned being embarrassed about being wrong. I had many of those experiences. With regard to politics and policy matters one lesson I’ve learned is that what seems to be true, based on superficial understanding is often not true or very different once you gain more information. For me, this is a very common–so much so that I assume that my initial understanding or position of story or incident is likely wrong or deficient in some significant way. This goes back to my point about being uncertain about basic facts. For whatever reasons, it seems like you haven’t had the same experiences, or you have responded to them in the way I have.

    And second (which I know is probably not good), I just think things are going to work out.

    I’m not sure how this relates to what we’re talking about, unless you’re essentially saying that it doesn’t matter if I’m (or the general populace) is uncertain about what to believe, ignorant about important political matters, or just confused. I don’t think that’s what you mean, though, but I don’t know what you mean, so I’m kinda confused.

    My approach, which I hope someday may excuse this attitude on a grander, more cosmic scale, is to do what I can in my small piece of the cosmos to nudge it along toward working out for the better. No, of course that doesn’t give me peace and it’s one reason I don’t sleep well.

    I don’t get this. If you think things will work out, why wouldn’t you be at peace?

    My biggest disagreement with you in this recurring conversation has been your inclination to say “WE need…” but you’ve stayed away from that in this recent conversation, and it’s a much more compelling discussion.

    When we discuss the larger population, what if you excluded yourself–i.e., the degree to which you feel informed and confident politics and sources of information? Maybe you’re conflating yourself and your preferences with the larger populace–unless you really believe you’re representative of the majority. If you believe your representative, I disagree with that. I think more people are like me–in the sense that they’re uncertain about who to trust and what to believe.

    I would much, much, much rather live in this world with too much information than the world we grew up in, with 30 minutes of national news per evening and whatever the two local papers decided to put in their print edition.

    But do you think citizens are better off? Are they more informed, more confident versus confused about who and what to believe?

    1. Reid said:

      How does my left-leaning bias factor in, if my right leaning sources are largely silent, and not offering any rebuttals to claims by my left-leaning sources. If my right-leaning sources rebutted the left’s claims, and I sided with the left, then what you said would make more sense.

      Ah, I didn’t get the part about your right-leaning sources being silent.

      Basic facts are a starting point, but without additional facts and information, I have difficulty knowing the significance of those facts and then drawing conclusions. And I think often many of this type of information and facts are left out. Sources make decisions about which facts to emphasize or de-emphasize as well. Maybe one of the big differences between us is that I feel I need more information to draw conclusions than you do, and without this, I feel uncertain and even confused?

      Maybe. That’s probably it, because I think we look at stuff that covers the same depth of facts. I agree about sources deciding what to emphasize or de-emphasize, which is why at least a handful of responsible sources is best. They may disagree on what to report, but the important thing (to me) is that the facts themselves aren’t contradictory.

      But do you think it’s fair to assume that the amount of information and analysis regarding Clinton’s emails hasn’t been extensive for most people? If so, I would think this could change their perception and even position on the matter.

      No, I do not think this. It may have been true at the front end of the supposed scandal, but by now no amount of fact-checking, analysis, or discussion is going to change people’s minds. I’ve tried and you’ve probably tried as well. Once we agree on the facts and someone has made up his or her mind, it doesn’t seem like more can be done, when the values come into play. The reasoning is something like: (a) she operated a private email server, against protocol, (b) some of the emails she sent were some level of classified, (c) she was the secretary of state at the time. I can’t dispute any of this, and it pretty much ends the discussion, because my attempt to explain context doesn’t change any of that for them. By themselves, these facts are condemnable.

      This goes back to my point about being uncertain about basic facts. For whatever reasons, it seems like you haven’t had the same experiences, or you have responded to them in the way I have.

      I think you mean “haven’t responded to them in the way” you have, which is almost certainly true, because my response has been to stop trying to convince people whose minds are made up. Rather, I hear them out and then offer my own feelings, but I try not to point out what I think may be flaws in their thinking or unreasonable conclusions. I offer my own conclusions, and if they’re not good enough for the people I’m conversing with, at least we both listened to each other. I share office space with someone who went to the inauguration in January 2017, so I’ve had a lot of opportunity to dance this dance.

      I’m not sure how this relates to what we’re talking about, unless you’re essentially saying that it doesn’t matter if I’m (or the general populace) is uncertain about what to believe, ignorant about important political matters, or just confused. I don’t think that’s what you mean, though, but I don’t know what you mean, so I’m kinda confused.

      Nonononononononononono. I’m no longer in the business of telling people (or thinking about them) what to think or do, including whether or not their uncertainty matters. I am only deciding these things for myself. My point was that part of me thinks things are going to work out, so stressing out too much about things beyond my control is unnecessary. You do whatever you have to do. I’m doing what I have to do.

      I don’t get this. If you think things will work out, why wouldn’t you be at peace?

      I have several answers to this.

      1. I think things will work out on a grand scale. I and the people around me don’t live in the grand scale. We live our own lives in smaller scale, and these are not the same thing.

      2. What we do for each other does matter. A woman falls off her moped in the street in front of me, and my response matters.

      3. Probably the most true and the most selfish: I am unsatisfied with my life if I’m not playing a role in making something better according to some concept I have of what that means (I’m being vague because I’m still working it out). I had a realization about 12 years into my teaching career: despite many people telling me I was making a difference, I knew it wasn’t me who was making a difference. If I hadn’t been there during those 12 years, someone else would have been, and that person would have been making the difference. I have a rather long line of students who tell me I was an important part of their growing up, and it humbles me and makes me feel like I did something worthwhile, but if it hadn’t been me, it would have been someone else. In fact, for these past six years, it has been someone else.

      I like what I do, and what I do is (somewhat) important, but it doesn’t feed me the way teaching fed me. So really the best answer to your bafflement is that my soul needs nourishing, and trying to nudge things along toward working out for the best in my own sphere does it.

      When we discuss the larger population, what if you excluded yourself–i.e., the degree to which you feel informed and confident politics and sources of information? Maybe you’re conflating yourself and your preferences with the larger populace–unless you really believe you’re representative of the majority. If you believe your representative, I disagree with that. I think more people are like me–in the sense that they’re uncertain about who to trust and what to believe.

      Man, I am just not qualified to talk about what other people experience or about what they need. My take (without having thought about it a whole lot) is that people seem unreasonably certain, and it’s led to this whole demonizing people who don’t agree with us about stuff. If I had to pick one of us, I might lean toward your being the one conflating your preferences with the larger populace, which is why I keep pushing back.

      But do you think citizens are better off? Are they more informed, more confident versus confused about who and what to believe?

      I don’t know if better off is the important standard because so many things outside where we get our info plays a part in that. And again, I can’t speculate about how people feel about who and what to believe. I’m less certain today than I was 30 years ago; that’s completely true. I don’t know if I’m better or worse off, but I’m leaning toward better.

      Don’t think I’ve forgotten Neil Postman. I think about him all the time. The introduction of CNN was a mixed blessing, but look: we also have C-SPAN. Certain things emerge that help us in certain ways, and I like things this way much better.

      (tangent) My dad used to travel to DC for business 3 or 4 times a year, and when I was a teen he would always bring me back a Sunday issue of the Washington Post, knowing it was something I’d rather have than any souvenir. I couldn’t believe what I was missing out on, not living in a city with a paper like that. When I got to college, I would read USA Today whenever I could get my hands on it, not for the news but for the sports coverage. It easily had the best nationwide daily baseball coverage in the country. I know you don’t know this and you wouldn’t care, but our local papers (ALL of our local papers, including the neighbor island papers) printed baseball box scores without bases on balls stats. You could look at a box score and see that Barry Bonds went 1 for 1 with a double, but you wouldn’t have seen that he walked four times. My feeling then (and now, really) is you may as well not print a box score if you’re not going to include BB stats.

      All of this is to say that until recently, the gatekeepers in our lives have been negligent, partially for financial reasons. If you feel they are inadequate in number, size, credibility, or whatever, I (again) sympathize, but I’m not prepared to say what we (the grand we) lack, because once upon a time I had to go to 7-Eleven just to see how many walks Barry Bonds had against the Mets. Someone made that decision for me and it was wrong. I’m using baseball metaphorically (although also literally), in case that’s not clear.

      1. Maybe. That’s probably it, because I think we look at stuff that covers the same depth of facts.

        “It” refers to the possibility that you and I differ in terms of the type and amount of information we need to feel confident about the conclusions we draw, and I think we should put a pin in this. We both seem to agree that we differ, and I think that can explain other differences between us relating to these topics.

        I agree about sources deciding what to emphasize or de-emphasize, which is why at least a handful of responsible sources is best. They may disagree on what to report, but the important thing (to me) is that the facts themselves aren’t contradictory.

        My sense is that the facts that are beyond dispute generally aren’t sufficient to allow me to draw my own conclusions. If you’re not knowledgeable about an issue, how do you weigh the relevance of the facts and know their significance? Is this not even more difficult when you have two sides make opposite claims about the significance of the facts?

        No, I do not think this. It may have been true at the front end of the supposed scandal, but by now no amount of fact-checking, analysis, or discussion is going to change people’s minds.

        Wait, I want to separate two questions–1) has there been extensive information and analysis on the emails, and 2) would this change people’s minds or not.

        I don’t think there has been extensive information and analysis, not in the beginning, especially. That’s point 1. As for the second point, I would say that we have at least two groups of people–those whose conclusions are almost pre-determined, based on their politics, and those who are open to changing their views. I guess you could say I’m more concerned about this group, which I assume is quite large, who have the capacity to change their views based on good information.

        I think you mean “haven’t responded to them in the way” you have, which is almost certainly true, because my response has been to stop trying to convince people whose minds are made up.

        I don’t think we differ too much in this way, but even if we do, that’s not what I had in mind. My experiences have taught me that my initial impressions are often wrong or can change significantly when I get more information. This is even more true when I’m an outsider to a situation, or when I no little about the subject. My takeaway is that the basic facts, the ones that are not in dispute by the relevant parties, is often never enough to draw sound conclusion.

        Or do you agree with what I’m saying?

        Nonononononononononono. I’m no longer in the business of telling people (or thinking about them) what to think or do, including whether or not their uncertainty matters.

        Put aside actually telling people what to think–do you not think large numbers of citizens being uncertain and confused about what and whom to believe is a bad thing in a democracy?

        I have several answers to this.

        1. I think things will work out on a grand scale.

        Let me see if I understand you correctly. Basically, as far as what’s happening on a national level (or even global level), you believe things will work out. So, with regard to national and global issues, are you basically at peace? (If so, this would make sense. If this is accurate, I think this would explain the differences in our stance on these issues. If things will work out on a national level, then whether we have larger numbers of citizens who are confused or even uninformed doesn’t really matter. It also doesn’t matter if you, on an individual level, have confidence about your understanding and position on national/global issues.

        2. What we do for each other does matter. A woman falls off her moped in the street in front of me, and my response matters.

        3. Probably the most true and the most selfish: I am unsatisfied with my life if I’m not playing a role in making something better according to some concept I have of what that means (I’m being vague because I’m still working it out).

        I can see why these two points would keep you up at night (i.e., not give you peace). The connection between this and what we’re talking about wasn’t (isn’t) so clear to me, though.

        I had a realization about 12 years into my teaching career: despite many people telling me I was making a difference, I knew it wasn’t me who was making a difference. If I hadn’t been there during those 12 years, someone else would have been, and that person would have been making the difference.

        For what it’s worth, I don’t agree with this–if you’re saying that what you did didn’t really matter, because another person in your place would be having the essentially the same effect.

        Man, I am just not qualified to talk about what other people experience or about what they need. My take (without having thought about it a whole lot) is that people seem unreasonably certain, and it’s led to this whole demonizing people who don’t agree with us about stuff.

        Well, I’m not qualified either (whatever that means), but that doesn’t stop me from having an opinion about these issues. For example, you offered an opinion on the second sentence.

        As to your point, I go back to my sense that two groups exist–those who have set political views, which lead them to take firm stances on political matters, and those who don’t really have strong political views. Another of describing these two groups is to say one group is into politics and the other is not. My sense is that the second group is often confused and uncertain and even ill-informed.

        If I had to pick one of us, I might lean toward your being the one conflating your preferences with the larger populace, which is why I keep pushing back.

        I think this is true to some degree. Here’s my thinking, and I’d like to hear if you think I’m off base about this:

        1. I think I spend more time and energy consuming and thinking political news than the average citizen. Fair or not?

        2. If I feel confused and uncertain, isn’t it reasonable to assume that other people who don’t spend as much time feel at least as confused and uncertain as well? Let me just add that I haven’t always spent as much energy and time on political news, and I’ve felt more confused and uncertain in those moments. And if I spend less time, I will return to feeling even less certain.

        Now, this applies to the group that a) isn’t into politics and b) doesn’t have strong and rigid political convictions. The group that is into politics may feel certain and comfortable about what they believe. With this group, I think the potential danger is being trapped in a political bubble.

        I don’t know if better off is the important standard because so many things outside where we get our info plays a part in that. And again, I can’t speculate about how people feel about who and what to believe.

        With regard to “better off,” I’m thinking about information and understanding, specifically about politics. If large numbers of Americans are either trapped in a political bubble or really confused about what and whom to believe, isn’t it fair to say we’re worse off (assuming these things weren’t as bad in the past)?

        All of this is to say that until recently, the gatekeepers in our lives have been negligent, partially for financial reasons. If you feel they are inadequate in number, size, credibility, or whatever, I (again) sympathize, but I’m not prepared to say what we (the grand we) lack, because once upon a time I had to go to 7-Eleven just to see how many walks Barry Bonds had against the Mets. Someone made that decision for me and it was wrong. I’m using baseball metaphorically (although also literally), in case that’s not clear.

        OK, let’s assume the current information environment has produced two effects:

        1. Individuals have more power to find the information that really means a lot to them. This is definitely a huge benefit.

        2. Large numbers of citizens do not have a common set of facts, especially when it comes to political issues and policies about the most important matters.

        Overall, is this is a good tradeoff?

        1. By the way, I’m reading this transcript of an interview between Chris Hayes and Dave Roberts, and Hayes, in his introduction, really articulates my position on some of the issues we’re talking about.

  13. I would say this goes against the claim that Trump is a great negotiator and has a “very big brain.”

    Are the Republicans blaming the Democrats for what Trump said? There really is no blame, or even credit (for being shrewd)–we know Trump says foolish things without prompting and often against advice.

    Here’s the actual video:

    I wonder how Trump supporters who depend on government services or funding (e.g., veterans) will feel if they’re deprived of their services due to a government shutdown. I guess we’ll see how important building a wall to them is.

    On another note, I’m pretty sure I don’t have to say this, but this wall isn’t about improving actual security, nor do I think immigrants increase crime and drugs in our country. I can’t help but feel this is all symbolic–an expression of the fear and anger at the social and cultural changes that are occurring. Building a wall is not going to stop that.

    Video of the entire discussion can be seen here.

    12/12/2018

    12/13/2018

    Today, Trump doubles down on Mexico paying for the wall:

    I would think saying this, while also claiming he’ll shutdown the government if he doesn’t get the wall, must be confusing even to his supporters. This doesn’t seem like a smart move.

    I don’t know the person below, and I don’t know how accurate the information is, but something worth considering regarding the effects of a government shutdown.

    12/21/2018

    1/14/2019

    A thread on Trump’s recent comments about immigrants:

    There was a very weird moment in Trump’s speech today where he mocked undocumented immigrants who actually showed up to their immigration court hearings.

    He falsely claimed that only two percent of immigrants show up to their court hearings. Actually, a majority do. But then he goes: “those people you almost don’t want because they cannot be very smart.. those two percent are not going to make America great again, I tell ya.”

    So the Obama administration had set up this program, the Family Case Management Program, that worked with asylum seekers, provided them some legal representation. It worked great. Attendance at court hearings hit high-90s percent levels. The Trump admin quickly dismantled it.

    So when you look at the issue of undocumented immigrants not showing up for court hearings — the Trump administration quickly moved to exacerbate this issue and now the president is *openly mocking* people who do show up for their hearings.

    So, uh, I guess that’s Trump’s message to undocumented immigrants: only an idiot would go through the legal system properly.

    1. I think this is an example of gaslighting–trying to convince people of the opposite of what we can see and hear:

      Just about a week ago:

      Edit

      Worth watching:

      Republicans willing to shut down the government if no money is included to build a wall–but Trump said Mexico would pay for it.

      Edit

      Trump’s next Chief of Staff in 2015 regarding building a wall.

  14. I think I’ve made the points in this thread by Jonathan Rauch before, but it’s worth reiterating, as much attention has turned to whether Trump has done something illegal or not.

  15. While I think official government statements should be written properly, I’m not as a big a stickler about errors as Mitchell, but this Department of Homeland Security memo is troubling. The heading is, “Walls Work,” and here’s the first two paragraphs:

    Release Date:
    December 12, 2018

    WE ARE BUILDING THE FIRST NEW BORDER WALL IN A DECADE.

    DHS is committed to building wall and building wall quickly. We are not replacing short, outdated and ineffective wall with similar wall. Instead, under this President we are building a wall that is 30-feet high.

    FACT: Prior to President Trump taking office, we have never built wall that high.

    What the heck? This is “See Dick Run” type of writing. Someone also made a joke about a Russian writing this. This is more than just an understandable typo or mistake.

      1. I don’t know, but they’ve had other errors/gaffes. This one seems especially bad, though.

        By the way, I’m not that much a stickler for intra-office communication. I’m sure that link explains who the sender and audience were and what the purpose of the communication was, and all of those things come into play for how important it is to be precise or standard with language.

        I think this was posted on the Department of Homeland website, so I assume this is for the general public.

        1. Do you know she went to UHM for at least a summer? She was roommates with Vicki H, your brother’s classmate. I think they’re still friends.

    1. By the way, I’m not that much a stickler for intra-office communication. I’m sure that link explains who the sender and audience were and what the purpose of the communication was, and all of those things come into play for how important it is to be precise or standard with language.

      Yesterday I sent an email with this slightly embarrassing error:
      “Hi. There are a pair of glasses on the railing outside the annex 11 women’s restroom. So if you can’t read this, I hope you’ll find your way over there for a reunification.”

  16. If Lindsay Graham, and other Republicans genuinely believed this, then there is enough justification to impeach and remove Trump. If Trump were a Democrat, I believe Republicans would have impeached him already.

  17. Various (All?) Trump Organizations Being Investigated

    Also,

    12/18/2018

    Edit

    One thing in this. The New York AG is prohibiting Trump, and his children from sitting on any non-profit board in New York.

    Edit

  18. I remember these details when they were first reported.

    Posting this because of today’s indictment:

  19. This seems like rather serious accusations by the White House Press Secretary:

    And if these accusations are true, I would think Comey should not only be fired, but prosecuted as well. The Trump administration should provide evidence to vindicate the firing. Somehow I think if they had evidence to do this, they would have provided this a long time ago.

  20. The idea that the President and his enablers are assaulting the truth seems extreme, irrational, and hyperbolic. It’s the type of thing that would almost discredit the person saying this in earnest. But there are some serious people making this claim–e.g., James Clapper, former FBI Director of National Intelligence:

    1. On a related note, Mitchell and I were discussing the recent reports of Russian interference in the 2016 election. I had another response, but I’m going to put it in this thread:

      By the way, I think it’s worth saying that a normal POTUS and Congress would be mobilizing the government to study this problem and figure ways to deal with it. I would expect the POTUS to mobilize the country as well–making serious attempts to avoid inflaming divisions and hostilities between different groups and also making serious attempts to bring the country together. From what I see the POTUS is doing the opposite.

      (See note below*)

      Trump and GOP controlled Congress also have done seemingly little to address these challenges. (We should set up a bi-partisan 9-11 style commission to study this and come up with a proposals.)

      (*Note: Sargent mentions talking points pushed by Russia and Trump and his supporters. For example,

      Indeed, if you scroll through the specific Russian attacks on the investigation detailed in the report, it’s remarkable how precisely they echo those of Trump and his allies. Among the themes: That Democrats and Hillary Clinton partisans are pointing to Russia to make excuses for her loss. That the corruption of the Clintons is the real story. That the media is hyping the investigation for its own corrupt purposes (Trump’s term “fake news” comes up regularly). That those defending the investigation are obsessed with Russia. That Donald Trump Jr. had every right to meet with Russians to secure dirt on Clinton. That the entire investigation is corrupt and a hoax.

      I think it’s important to note that a reasonable, patriotic American can hold and express some of these views–e.g., Team Clinton blaming Russia as an excuse for their mistakes. However, these Americans–especially Trump and political leaders–should really see the overlap as a red flag and should take care that they’re not assisting Russia in dividing the nation. This is especially true for Trump and his supporters in Washington and in the media. As POTUS, Trump cannot irresponsibly undermine the faith and trust in important democratic institutions–like the press, the FBI, courts, intelligence community. Whether or not Trump has legitimate claims, he is being totally reckless and irresponsible with regard to this, and he’s clearly putting his personal interests far above the country’s.

    1. Man, I must admit I’m leaning strongly towards Luce’s position. It’s unnerving and uncomfortable, but what I see points to that, at least as a strong possibility. If you guys think I’m losing it, please jump in and help me out here.

  21. Trump is saying Mattis is “retiring.” Read the (short) letter and judge for yourself. Or if you don’t want to read it, here’s the crucial line:

    Edit

    I agree with Kayyem. If she’s thinking like how I’m thinking, this could cause a chain reaction. I think the next person (or even if Mattis says something more) is important, and I think it’s important that they act soon. Doing so can spark more people to resign or speak out. This, in turn, could finally get Congressional GOP to act, which is really the crucial part of this.

    Edit

    I’m almost sure there are Congressional Republicans that know this, but they refuse to do anything about it.

    12/21/2018

    These Republicans need to publicly speak out.

    Edit

    One person has said this tweet is in response to Mattis’s resignation letter, and I tend to agree:

    If you have not read Mattis’s letter, it is short, and I recommend reading it. Mattis lays out his views, including on China and Russia. For example, Mattis writes, “Similarly, I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours. It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model – gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions – to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies.” Later, at the closing of the letter, he says, “Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.” In other words, Mattis is saying Trump isn’t “resolute and unambiguous” towards countries like Russia and China. Apparently, Mattis is now part of “fake news.” By the way, this is consistent with the hypothesis that Trump equates truth with anything that is favorable to him, and lies as anything that is not. Finally, anyone following the Trump administration would know that he hasn’t been tough on Russia (although parts of his administration have been).

    edit

    If this true, these Republicans are gambling that nothing catastrophic will happen. They’re putting the country at risk if they don’t speak out and try to stop Trump.

    1. This, and the remarks above that echo this sentiment, are enraging. If we’re truly in peril, Congressional Republicans have to do something. Anonymously saying we’re in peril isn’t cutting it. At the very least, say this publicly.

    2. Trump tweeted this, I assume after he realized the extent to which Mattis’s letter was critical of him:

      Also, this is very concerning:

      Let’s hope the Acting Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan, also can do something similar and is as capable as Mattis. If a catastrophe occurs involving nuclear weapons, the Republicans and conservative media pundits cannot say they realize this was a concern.

      Note: Brett McGurk resigned on Friday, 12/21/2018.

  22. I don’t know a lot about the stock market, but my knee jerk reaction is this is nutso. I would have to think this would create more unpredictability and instability.

    I guess that’s sort of what Jacob’s says in the rest of her tweets:

    Trump has talked privately about wanting to fire the Fed chair many times in past few days. Any such attempt would have potentially devastating ripple effects on markets, undermining investors’ confidence in Fed’s ability to shepherd the economy without political interference.

    It’s unclear how much legal authority the president has to fire Jay Powell. And at least one of Trump’s economic advisers, Kudlow, has said a president can’t fire Federal Reserve chair without cause. That hasn’t stopped Trump from expressing his desire to get rid of Powell.

    and finally,

    We have a very erratic, unfit, possibly mentally impaired, POTUS. I’m almost sure the GOP know or strongly suspect this, and they’re doing almost nothing to stop this.

    On a side note, if this causes the Republicans to stand up, speak out, and even vigorously try to remove Trump, this would support the hypothesis that the GOP are slaves to the wealthy. (I always believed the party serve the interests of the rich and big businesses, but I also believed that many of them were also patriotic, cared about the rule of law, and national security. The Trump presidency, so far, has shown that they only care about the wealthy.)

    1. Again, I don’t know much about the stock market, but this kind of comment seems foolish, like something that can disrupt the market, erode confidence in the FED. Hopefully, people won’t take Trump seriously. Then again, maybe this will worry investors that Trump will fire the FED chairman, and that will cause uncertainty and panic.

      By the way, I’m not one to hold the POTUS accountable for the stock market. If it does poorly or well, I tend not to blame or credit the POTUS. But comments like these, the use of tariffs, redoing NAFTA–I can see those things hurting the stock market and economy, and if that’s accurate then Trump should be blamed.

      edit

      (I just read the headline.)

  23. I’m not sure if CNN edited this in a misleading way, but this was pretty funny. Also, what Trump fails to mention is that some Democrats wanted Comey fired because he reopened case against Clinton days before the election. Trump, on the other hand, publicly said that the Russia investigation was on his mind when he fired Comey. No one who has been paying attention would believe that Trump would fire Comey because he was unfair to Hillary Clinton. In fact, I think Trump believes the FBI and DOJ let her off.

    On another note,

    Also, has Trump visited any troops in the field, yet?

  24. Interesting (but unsurprising) thread. (I didn’t read the article yet.)

  25. I agree, this is a really key question.

  26. Environmental Policy

    and

    My takeaway from the second article:

    Under President Barack Obama, the EPA estimated that it would cost utilities $9.6 billion a year to comply with the new standards, while limiting mercury would translate into merely $6 million in public health benefits. But the EPA estimated at the time that other factors, such as reductions in soot and nitrogen oxide that would accompany cuts to mercury pollution, would save between $37 billion to $90 billion in annual health costs and lost workdays by preventing as many as 11,000 premature deaths and 4,700 heart attacks.

    The latest EPA analysis argues that it was inappropriate to factor in such co-benefits.

    Those co-benefits are really important to me.

  27. But at the core of Kelly’s comments was the same thing: a top Trump administration official suggesting that the political novice in the White House makes decisions with his gut and without much regard for the information that the smart people around him try to give him. The idea that Kelly regards his biggest success as standing in Trump’s way is a pretty strong indictment of Trump as a person and of his presidency. It is also perhaps a warning of what’s to come as Trump is increasingly surrounded by yes-men and -women.

    In the article, Kelly paints himself as the reasonable, good guy. I can’t help but feel a little disgust at him. If he was reasonable, and Trump and others behaved badly, I feel like he should have spoken up and resigned.

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